Innovation That Matters

Artificial skin for your phone | Photo source Marc Teyssier

Faux-skin allows smart devices to 'feel' human touch

Computing & Tech

The Skin-on interface mimics human skin in appearance and sensitivity, allowing smart devices to sense the user’s grasp and respond to touch.

Spotted: Students at the UK’s University of Bristol have created a multi-layered silicone interface that communicates with smart devices through touch. The interface is the first artificial skin that allows devices to “feel” and respond to human gestures, the team said.

Skin-on is made out of layers mimicking layers of human skin, Marc Teyssien, the lead study author, says.  The top layer, which replicates human skin, is DragonSkin silicone. Next is a layer of conductive threads, followed by another layer of silicone. When you press down on the silicone, the pressure changes the electric charge in the system.

The silicone skin is programmed to associate different gestures with specific emotions. For example, continued contact reads as comfort while tapping is understood as a need for attention. 

Teyssien notes that artificial skin has been studied in Robotics but not as an interface for devices. The project was developed by a team that included researchers in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Bristol in partnership with Telecomm ParisTech and the Sorbonne University. The team is now looking at how to make the skin look even more realistic. 




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